Thank you for your interest in our ministry. This year marks the significant anniversary of 35 years of ministry. That means 35 years of lives impacted by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here are some excerpts from an interview with the Founder of Harvest USA, John Freeman. We asked him to share some of his insights about the historic and ongoing impact of this ministry over the last 35 years. (You can watch John’s full interview in the video above!) I hope you’ll find John’s words as encouraging as I do.
Harvest USA: John, how did our ministry start?
John: With the help and visionary leadership of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in Center City, Philadelphia, back in 1983, Harvest USA got its start through Bible studies and support groups with men and women from the LGBTQ community. These meetings sought to bring the love and transforming power of Christ to a hurting and, often, marginalized group of people. It was in these first small group meetings where I saw God begin to show up big time in hearts and lives. That’s when I became convinced that God wanted me here in Philadelphia.
Harvest USA: Would you highlight one or two powerful stories about what the Lord has done in the last 35 years?
John: Harvest USA has always been about the gospel and people. It’s been about seeing the “what if” in people’s lives; that is, what they could be if they came to understand the love of a Savior, who left the splendor of heaven to walk in the midst and muck of humanity, despite our sexual confusion and sin.
I remember sitting in on one of the men’s groups, and I was struck by what one man was sharing about what God was teaching him. He said, “I’m beginning to see that following Jesus isn’t a self-improvement program; instead, he wants to do continual radical surgery on my heart to enable me to walk a life of obedience, faith, repentance, and joy.”
Another man shared that he hadn’t tithed in years due to the guilt and shame surrounding his sexual sin. He had become a passive dropout in his church. Now, beginning to understand and abide in the love and forgiveness of Jesus, he said that he, like Zacchaeus, would be giving back fourfold to his church. That’s the power of the gospel at work, moving this man to worship God through giving!
This is an exciting season in Harvest USA’s history. Our plan in 2019 and beyond is to continue, just as we always have, to help people in our offices. But we also want the local church to become a place where men, women, and families can find help.
So, we’re working on more resources to equip the local church—the kinds of resources that Harvest USA is known for—resources that leaders can use to help sexual strugglers in their churches. But we’re also creating new resources that churches can use to disciple their members in a biblical view of sexuality. And, we’re creating resources that parents can use to disciple their children in biblical concepts of sex, sexuality, and gender.
You care about the gospel work of Harvest USA, so I’m asking for your help. Would you pray for our future and the work that God has given us to do? We need God’s wisdom and help in all things, especially as we work to create these new resources for the Church.
Would you also invest in our ministry with a calendar year-end gift today by clicking here? $271,000 remains of our $500,000 year-end goal. Just as God used John Freeman’s vision to establish Harvest USA 35 years ago, we believe that he can do extraordinary and eternal things with each and every gift.
Let me close by saying that I’m very hopeful about where Harvest USA is headed! Whether you’ve known about Harvest USA for just a short time, or for all of our 35 years, thank you for believing in our ministry! And, thank you for standing with us as we move boldly into the future.
P.S. If you want to donate stock to Harvest USA before December 31, please contact Scott Pickering at email@example.com or 215-482-0111, ext. 104.
07 Aug 2012
Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill—Part 1
Washed and Waiting is a series of Christian theological and personal reflections written by a doctoral student who struggles with same-sex attraction. Wesley Hill begins his story as a secret, frightened believer with forbidden yearnings in the church. He ends his biography as an open, integrated member of Christian community who has chosen celibacy as a lifestyle of faithfulness for Christ. The book is almost devotional at points, exploring the spiritual nuances of the gospel as they apply to his struggle. Even if he weren’t addressing same-sex yearnings, he provides us with a model of what growing discipleship looks like as we live in a broken world.
This is not a “success” story. There is little movement away from his same-sex attractions during the course of his story, and Hill says he cannot even imagine what the absence of these desires might look like in his life. But we do see personal transformation in how he increasingly understands and welcomes his celibate struggle as an impetus and means to deepen his relationship with Christ. After all, intimacy and union with Christ are the ultimate goals for all believers.
In the introduction, Hill explains his terminology. He calls himself a “gay Christian” and, more frequently, a “homosexual Christian.” Since we hear this term from those who want to legitimize homosexual relations as a “Christian” alternative, it feels uncomfortable—probably both to those who want to legitimize homosexual practice and to those who reject it. At Harvest USA, we feel that using a sexual orientation qualifier for Christians lessens one’s full and primary identity in Christ (see this blog for an excellent discussion on this topic).
But Hill is absolutely on target in reminding us that there is, and always has been, a slice of the Christian church who have struggled, usually silently, with same-sex attraction while remaining faithful to Christ in their lifestyle. Hill provides a number of well-known names as representatives; there are more than we realize. God calls us in the church to understand, empathize, and support them. Like all of us, whatever our sexual attractions, they are broken people, and Christ walks with them in their suffering.
You can’t take this journey of celibacy without accepting that sin causes basic human brokenness. Same-sex attraction is, like all forms of brokenness, a result of the human race’s fall in Adam. And like all effects of the Fall in our lives, we struggle to attain the goal of personal holiness for which Christ calls all of us to strive as we wait for the coming glory when sexuality will no longer be an issue, and intimacy will be complete in Christ. Those who have a small vision of the coming glory—when the coming of Christ will usher in a restored humanity and world—who see sexual intimacy as a right, and who refuse suffering as part of the spiritual journey, will struggle with Hill’s book. But those who long for deep intimacy with Christ, understand the relational power of Christian community, and find Christian waiting profitable in the long run, will find this book encouraging and full of hope.